By: -Over the weekend, the United Nation’s Group of 77, joined by China, met in Bolivia to discuss sustainability, the war on poverty, and “equal” development. Despite the name, the bloc’s membership has swollen to 133 developing nations from Latin America, Africa, and Asia, with presidents and leading representatives meeting in Santa Cruz de la Sierra on the multilateral bloc’s 50th anniversary.
More than the environment and equality, though, anti-imperialism dominated the debate among the heads of state.
Among the Latin-American presidents who attended the summit were José Mujica (Uruguay), Horacio Cartes (Paraguay), Nicolás Maduro (Venezuela), Ollanta Humala (Peru), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Argentina), Raul Castro (Cuba), and Evo Morales (Bolivia), who holds the pro tempore presidency of the bloc.
“Towards a New World Order to Live Well” was the theme of the G77+China summit, and Bolivian President Evo Morales urged member countries to move toward a new paradigm of sustainable development. He advocates “living well and connecting with Mother Earth.”
UN Secretary General General Ban Ki-Moon also attended the summit, where he asserted the bloc’s contribution towards the development of its member countries: “Over the years, this diverse group, which currently represents over half of the world’s population, and about two thirds of the member states of the United Nations, has enabled the global South to speak with a common voice.”
The decisions taken during this summit will contribute to the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda.
“Inclusive” Development, but without the United States“Very pleased, very happy,” were the words that President Morales used during his speech to reflect on the expulsion of US Ambassador Philip Goldberg from Bolivia, along with the DEA and USAID agencies: “Now there’s no need to ask for permission from the US Embassy… we indigenous people have been the victims of different empires.”
Morales also took the opportunity to warn about the possibility of “a second Vietnam” in Latin America if the US “aggression” towards Venezuela continued. After his strong remarks, the Bolivian president publicly invited Russia to join the the bloc.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa also warned about threats against progressive governments in Latin America. “Clearly, there’s a conservative restoration at a regional level that aims to put an end to progressive governments.”
The anti-imperialism thread also addressed the United Nations system. During his speech, the G77+China president proposed to eliminate the UN Security Council, “because instead of guaranteeing peace among nations, it has sponsored wars and invasions of powers.”
A New Financial OrderIn addition to anti-imperialism and anti-free market rhetoric, there was another motion on the agenda: the “independence of the current international financial system and the construction of a new financial architecture.”
Cuban President Raúl Castro proposed to substitute institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for other ones that were more inclusive towards the South and its needs. In this regard, Morales suggested the creation of a Bank of the South (Banco del Sur) that would allow greater participation from developing countries in the decision-making process.
The need for a reform was also addressed by Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who urged G77 members to speak up against “anarcho-capitalism,” which according to her, “puts into risk the financial system and the world economic system.” Fernández apparently applied the term “anarcho-capitalism” to describe a growing system “even worse than capitalism.”*
A G77 Strategy of More Than Words?Víctor Mijares, visiting researcher at the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies and assistant professor in international relations at Simón Bolívar University, talked exclusively to PanAm Post on the bloc’s newest radical stand.
This kind of discourse, he says, “has had an important impact on Latin America, and has become the flag for left-wing groups and parties.” Since the bloc’s anti-imperialism speech is directly aimed towards United States, it’s expected that these countries look favorably upon other powers that are outside the regional scope, such as Russia and China.
However, Mijares emphasizes that these extra-regional powers have their own agenda as well. They are seeking to recover their own scopes of influence, and therefore, “this [approach] is not advisable for a group that advocates an ‘anti-imperialism’ world movement.”
Regarding the proposal to eliminate the UN Security Council, Mijares calls it “unlikely.” If Morales is inviting Russia to join the bloc, and at the same times puts forward the dissolution of the Security Council, “he’s basically asking Moscow to renounce its formal status as a power and give away its diplomatic advantage,” explains the analyst.
“I think Morales’s speech can only be interpreted as an effort to justify its ideological stand, with a domestic purpose, but with little realistic sense in the international arena.”
“There’s no doubt that a financial governance system is still pending,” he continues, “but the Argentinean president fails to recognize that the multipolarity she describes as excess financial freedom, it’s the same process that has allowed secondary powers like Argentina to have greater international autonomy.”
For Mijares, the overall proposals presented by the heads of state is what one should expect from a G77 summit: “aspirations that, beyond reflecting genuine concerns, lack of realism for their extremism.”
*Editor’s note: this sentence includes an update to clarify that Kirchner did not invent the term anarcho-capitalism. Rather, she applied in an unconventional and novel manner.